Five people were shot dead in a gunfight with Mexican police in the Sonora beach resort of Puerto Peñasco, or Rocky Point, early Wednesday.
Sonora Attorney General Carlos Navarro said the gunfight took place in a tourist zone called Sandy Beach. It’s a popular destination for Arizona travelers, and it has left some American visitors afraid to stay.
Steve Heisler was sleeping when he woke to helicopters firing at people on the ground.
"It was a full military assault," Heisler said. "Those guys were on a mission and serious about who they were going after."
Heisler lives near Sandy Beach with his wife. They had been thinking of leaving Rocky Point, and Wednesday's shooting "certianly puts us over the top," he said.
Sonora state police said the gunmen had fired at federal police in the city and a car chase began sometime late Tuesday night.
Mexican officials have not identified the dead. But Mexican press accounts report that among those killed was an enforcer for the Sinaloa Cartel named Macho Prieto. He’s been named in various grisly murders in Mexico's cartel battles.
Rocky Point has seen very little of the organized crime violence that has dominated the news in Mexico for much of the past decade, but this is the third gun fight in the beach town in less than a month. Two weeks ago, a young man fired on police after officers tried to pull him over. He was found carrying four rifles and body armor.
The U.S. State Department has issued travel warnings for travel toward Rocky Point for two years.
The U.S. Consul went to its social media accounts to warn people early Wednesday morning to stay indoors until the gunfire subsided. By Wednesday afternoon the consul was advising people to stay indoors if they hear gunfire.
Updated 12/18/2013 at 8:20 p.m.